Understanding & Evaluating the News Instructions & Requirements (orientation standard and entertainment standard)

Assignment Overview and Description :
For this three-page paper, you will select two stories, one that reflects the orientation standard and one
that reflects the entertainment standard, from USA Today (www.usatoday.com) to compare and
analyze based on the news values we have discussed this semester. By identifying and explaining the
differences between the orientation and the entertainment article, you will:

1. Demonstrate an understanding of the concepts and apply theories in the use and presentation of
images and information.
2. Learn the importance of accuracy and fairness, clarity, appropriate style, and grammatical
correctness in journalism and other media communication.
3. Think critically, creatively, and independently.
4. Write correctly and clearly.

You will turn in two Word documents. One contains a screenshot of both articles that you chose and the other will be your three-page paper.

Picking 2 Stories for Paper A (News)
Skim through the USA Today website and choose two different written articles published on the same
– Choose one story that best represents an ‘orientation’ standard of news production (i.e., what
news workers would believe readers need to know, that orients a reader to their world so they can
make informed decisions and choices to be functioning members of a democracy);
– Choose another story that best represents the ‘entertainment’ standard of news production (i.e.,
what news workers would believe readers would want to know – a story that reflects no real
orientation value, that is mostly stimulating for its sensational value).
The stories must be more than 150 words long each and must be on different topics.

[Note: Do not use obituaries, blogs, editorials, or opinion-based articles. Also, do not use stories that are
exclusively on video (there is no way for you to upload them to Canvas. If a video story has a long
enough written version, you may use the written version). Do select more traditional newspaper-style,
written stories. They can be news, sports, or features.]

Once you have selected your two stories, save images of both of them. See “Technical Tips” below if you
are unsure how to image-capture the screen.

Writing the Essay
The purpose of this essay is to identify, articulate, and compare the different news values present in two
articles published on the same day for USA TODAY. Provide an introductory statement, summarize what
you found with various arguments and examples, and provide a conclusion.

Introduction, ¼ page: Orient the reader to the articles that you have selected with brief summaries and
any relevant context. Also, make sure you overview the key arguments you will be a making in this essay.

Analysis, 2 pages: Provide the analysis of the articles. You might organize the information by article, by
news value, or by themes. Make sure you break your thoughts into paragraphs, beginning with a topic
sentence and moving through 2-4 sentences of evidence/information.

Use the following questions to guide you (remember to provide examples from the stories):
– Based on what you know, what about the orientation article represents “need to know”
– Based on what you know, what about the entertainment story represents “want to know”
journalism? What about this story makes you believe it was posted primarily to entertain and lure
readers rather than to inform them about the important issues of the day?
– Also, what news value(s) are you seeing in each article that provide evidence of the orientation or
entertainment standard? Identify at least two news values per article you observe as a way to
back up your argument that the story represents an orientation standard of journalism or the
entertainment standard. Of the eight news values, do not use timeliness. It’s too easy.

[WARNING: As you discuss the news values present in each story, you cannot simply list the news
value(s) at play. For example, if you use “impact,” you must explain what specifically about the story
reflects “impact.”]

Conclusion, ¾ page: Describe what your analysis means for journalism. Make your case and tie it back
to the articles you chose for this assignment. You may want to consider the following questions to help
guide your discussion.

– What can you conclude about news production where we see articles that represent conflicting
standards of newsworthiness? What does the fact that these stories were posted on the same day
by the same news organization tell you about both the state of journalism and the consumption
habits of news consumers? Do you believe that placing entertainment and orientation quality
articles in the same online news site dilutes the democratic mission of American journalism?

– Do not get into a debate or discussion of bias – this assignment is intended to help you better
understand the mental models of journalists and why we see certain issues or events evolve into
news stories, not necessarily the writing itself.

Formatting and Other Requirements
Do not go over 3 pages for your total essay. Your document must be double-spaced, 12 pt., with 1 inch
margins. Note: You do not have to include anything like a bibliography or reference list. When you refer to each article, just give it a name your reader will recognize, such as, “the election article,” or, “the Broncos story,” and so on.

Review of Key Course Materials and Additional Tips
Editors, producers, and reporters of news share values to determine the selection of which events and
issues to bring to you — the media consumer. Below is a list of the NEWS VALUES (all were presented
in class):
1. Controversy/Conflict
2. Impact/Consequence
3. Physical Proximity
4. Psychological Proximity
5. Human Interest
6. The Unusual
7. Prominence (Celebrity)

You must use at least two news values. But word of warning: “Timeliness” will not count. Everything
you find in the newspaper should be timely, otherwise it wouldn’t be there.

Please make sure that the rubric criteria is followed

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